Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Peru

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 5 August 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Peru, 5 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c63b62ac.html [accessed 18 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Peru's primary counterterrorism concern remained fighting remnants of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path or SL), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that wreaked havoc on the country in the 1980s and 1990s at a cost of more than 69,000 lives. SL elements in the Upper Huallaga River Valley (UHV) sought to regroup and replenish their ranks following significant setbacks in 2007 and 2008. Separately, the rival SL organization in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) maintained its influence in that area. Both factions continued to engage in drug trafficking, and in 2009 carried out more than 100 terrorist acts that killed at least three police officers and 26 civilians.

Although Peru nearly eliminated SL in the 1990s, the organization, now entwined with narcotics trafficking, remained a threat. The two SL organizations combined are believed to have several hundred armed members. While SL possessed less revolutionary zeal than in the past, analysts believed that leaders continued to use Maoist philosophy to justify their illicit activities. Involvement in drug production and trafficking provided SL with funding to conduct operations, improve relations with local communities in remote areas, and to recruit new members. While SL in the UHV worked to recuperate from losses suffered in 2007 and 2008, insufficient government presence in the more remote VRAE allowed the organization there to continue operating.

  • On August 1, about 40 SL terrorists attacked a police station in San Jose de Secce, outside the VRAE in the highlands of Ayacucho, killing three police officers and two civilians. Official reports indicated a highly coordinated attack with explosives and military grade weaponry.

  • On September 2, SL forces downed a Peruvian air force MI-17 helicopter near the town of Sinaycocha in Junin department, killing the pilot, co-pilot, and one crewman.

The Army's 2008 offensive in the Vizcatan region, called "Operation Excellence 777," continued haltingly with the military maintaining a number of small provisional bases established in the area. Confrontations generally consisted of SL members attacking Peruvian patrols or incoming supply helicopters, but in several cases the SL attacked a military base. Several of the significant attacks perpetrated by the VRAE faction occurred in highland areas outside of the VRAE. Some analysts believed the attacks marked SL's attempts at expansion, while others said they were strictly aimed at protecting the group's stronghold in the VRAE and controlling drug routes.

Implementation of the government's Plan VRAE, which called for 2,000 troops and 19 counterterrorism bases under a central command, was still evolving. In August, the Garcia administration named Fernan Valer as the civilian head of Plan VRAE. Plans for new health, education, and infrastructure investment in these isolated communities were not fully implemented, but authorities made some improvements to roadways and rural electrification.

Government efforts to improve interagency cooperation, especially in intelligence, and to strengthen prosecutorial capacity were somewhat successful. Police units specializing in counterterrorism and counternarcotics conducted some joint operations with the Peruvian Army in the UHV where police captured one high-ranking SL terrorist.

President Garcia continued reauthorizing a 60-day state of emergency in parts of four departments where SL operated, suspending some civil liberties, and giving the armed forces additional authority to maintain public order. There was no movement on President Garcia's 2006 proposal calling for the death penalty for those convicted of acts of terrorism, but, in October, Congress passed a law removing parole and other benefits for convicted terrorists.

SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman and key accomplices remained in prison serving life sentences on charges stemming from crimes committed during the 1980s and 1990s. In September, Guzman's attorney published a book of Guzman's handwritten manuscripts as compiled by Guzman's common-law wife, Elena Iparraguirre, who is also incarcerated for terrorism charges.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continued to use remote areas along the Colombian-Peruvian border to regroup and make arms purchases. Experts believed the FARC continued to fund coca cultivation and cocaine production among the Peruvian population in border areas.

The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) has not conducted terrorist activities since the 1996 hostage taking at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima. Efforts to reconstitute an organizational structure were not in evidence in 2009, though former MRTA members established a political party called the Free Fatherland Party and sought alliances with other political parties.

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